Christian Left Blogger Benjamin L. Corey Calls BS On Fundies’ Persecution Complex
By Darrell Lucus on February 17, 2015
As a proud member of the Christian Left, I’ve always wondered–when will more of us stand up and be counted? One member who has not been shy about doing so is missiologist and blogger Benjamin L. Corey, who is best known as the man behind “Formerly Fundie” at Patheos. He is also the author of “Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus,” in which he argues that the Jesus of the Bible is a lot more radical than the one most Americans learn about. With titles like those, it should come as no surprise that Corey isn’t afraid to call out the religious right.
He found another occasion to do so after the Islamic State’s recent mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, many of whom cried out “Oh God” or “Oh Jesus” before the ISIS thugs killed them. Corey couldn’t help but think about the persecution complex that is all too prevalent in American fundamentalism. We’ve all seen it–ominous warnings from the likes of Bryan Fischer, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Franklin Graham that those evil, evil, closet atheist and Satanist libruls are out to persecute good, patriotic, God-fearing Americans. Corey thinks that this kind of talk not only distracts Americans from “real, legitimate persecution” that Christians face around the world, but is “distracting, offensive and insulting” to those who have to face the threats of church burnings, house burnings, arrests and executions just because they’re Christian.
Corey wonders–loudly–what some fundies who think they’ve been persecuted would say to the Copts as they were about to be led to the slaughter.
“We know how you feel beheaded Christians! Our bakery had to bake a cake that was used at a wedding for two women! You and I are one!”
“We know how you feel beheaded Christians! We lost our tax incentive to build a multi-million dollar replica of Noah’s ark because of discriminatory hiring practices. Don’t you feel sorry for us?”
“We know how you feel beheaded Christians! I lost my job because I handed out anti-gay literature at work.”
These are examples of something Corey sees all to often–believing that “a loss of privilege or ability to persecute others” is a sign that Christians in this country are about to be hauled off to jail just because of what they believe. In truth, they’re so fixated on this false persecution that they “miss the outrage of injustice” when real persecution occurs. He thinks it’s long past time to “stop playing the persecution card” and instead focus on the very real persecution that’s out there today.
I’ve seen this mentality first-hand. Many of you know that when I was a freshman at Carolina, I was tricked into joining a highly abusive charismatic campus ministry. At meetings on Monday and church on Sunday, there was a constant drumbeat of how people hated us “because of what we believe.” I finally got out of there after six months, but I briefly pretended that I had become one of them again in my sophomore year. Some of my “brothers” and “sisters” in that bunch, knowing how loudly I’d spoken out against them, likened me to the apostle Paul, since I’d gone from persecuting them to joining their side. Years later, I’m still stunned by the lack of proportion. They compared me, who merely shouted from the proverbial rooftop about how they had deceived and hurt me and others, to someone who actually had Christians killed?
I’m also reminded of a longtime friend of mine from my high school days, who is herself a Copt from Egypt. She took the beheadings very personally, since it very well could have been her. Corey has it absolutely right–anyone who compares that kind of fear to what many Americans consider persecution is missing the mark by a city mile.